7 Common Dental Care Myths

7 Common Dental Care Myths

If you think you know a lot about caring for your teeth, you might want to check out this list of widely believed dental care myths to make sure what you think is really the truth.

1. If I avoid sweets, I won’t get cavities.

Yes, the sugar in sweets can lead to cavities, but so can any carbohydrates — including bread, fruit, potatoes, honey and rice. Eating carbs causes bacteria in your mouth to produce acid that eats away at teeth, causing cavities. Brushing your teeth or gargling after meals can help get rid of food particles and thus limit the formation of acid.

2. The more sugar you eat, the more cavities you’ll get.

The amount of sugar you eat doesn’t matter as much as the length of time the sugar is in contact with your teeth. Slow-dissolving candy and large sugary sodas are particularly bad because of the amount of time it takes to finish them. Drinking sodas with a straw can help reduce your teeth’s sugar exposure because the liquid goes straight from the cup down the throat.

3. The more you brush, the better.

Brushing too much can break down tooth enamel, expose the root and irritate the gums. Brushing two to three times a day is recommended (along with rinsing with water after eating); more than four times is excessive.

4. You have to visit the dentist every six months.

A checkup every six months is generally recommended, but your dentist might suggest a less frequent schedule if you have particularly good dental health. Basically, just do what your dentist says.

5. Fluoride in water is unsafe.

Despite the widespread use of fluoride in drinking water, there remain rumors that it can cause health problems — including heart disease, allergies and genetic abnormalities. However, many studies have proven these claims false, and the level of fluoride intake that would actually prove dangerous amounts to 5,000 to 10,000 glasses of water a day. Typically, the worst side effect of fluoride ingestion is fluorosis, a condition that causes white spots on your teeth.

6. I shouldn’t brush my teeth if my gums are bleeding.

If your gums are bleeding, it’s often due to food particles getting stuck, so yes, you do actually need to brush — gently — to get them out of your gums. Don’t forget to floss and rinse with water or mouthwash in order to reach as much of your mouth as possible.

7. I don’t need to brush my child’s baby teeth.

Although children eventually lose their baby teeth, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of them while they’re here. For one thing, brushing teeth helps your young one establish a good dental hygiene routine. Additionally, not caring for baby teeth can cause decay that impairs the development of the permanent teeth waiting to emerge, and baby teeth that are lost too early can cause the permanent teeth underneath to rise crooked.

(Sources: WebMD, Tufts University, Dentistry.net, MSN, Discovery Fit & Health, 1-800-Dentist, National Health Service)